Julie L. Williams, the longtime Chief Counsel at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and First Senior Deputy Comptroller, has joined WilmerHale as Senior Counsel of the firm’s Financial Institutions Practice in Washington DC.
Williams has had a long and lustrous career in public service at the highest levels. She was first appointed Chief Counsel of the OCC in 1994, overseeing all the agency’s legal activities, including legal advisory services to banks and examiners, enforcement and compliance activities, litigation, legislative initiatives, and regulation of securities and corporate practices of national banks. Subsequently, she also assumed oversight of the Licensing Department and Community Affairs Department.
Williams was designated the OCC’s statutory First Deputy in 1997 and was named First Senior Deputy Comptroller in 1999. From April 1998 until December 1998, and again from October 2004 until August 2005, Williams served as the Acting Comptroller of the Currency. She is the first and only woman to have led the agency.
At WilmerHale, Williams’ practice will involve helping clients in the financial services regulatory space, particularly on bank permissible activities and meeting regulatory expectations.
“Julie is widely regarded as one of the most knowledgeable banking lawyers in the country,” said Franca Harris Gutierrez, chair of WilmerHale’s Financial Institutions Practice and co-chair of the Securities and Financial Regulatory Practice. “Her level of substantive knowledge and experience is unmatched, helping us further solidify our position as a premier banking practice. Julie’s experience, stature in the industry, and credibility with regulators make her exceptionally valuable to our financial services clients.”
“I am excited to take this next step in my career and bring my decades of government experience to WilmerHale’s clients,” said Williams. “I chose WilmerHale not only because its financial regulation practice is peerless, but also because of its strong collaborative culture and its commitment to government and public service.”
Prior to her tenure as the OCC’s Chief Counsel, Williams had served in a variety of positions at the Office of Thrift Supervision and its predecessor agency, the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, including as Senior Deputy Chief Counsel of the OTS, responsible for regulations and legislation, corporate and securities law, and general legal issues.
WilmerHale has in recent years added considerable additional strength to its leading government-facing financial regulation practice:
- In January, Yoon Hi Greene, former Deputy General Counsel at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, joined WilmerHale. Greene arrived just months after her colleague, former New York Fed General Counsel Michael Held.
- Joseph Brenner, former chief counsel of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, rejoined the firm in November 2022 after serving more than ten years as the Division’s principal legal and policy advisor.
- Matthew Kulkin, a former Commodity Futures Trading Commission official, joined the firm in October 2022 and is leading its futures and derivatives practice
- Frank Gorman, a 22-year veteran of the Federal Trade Commission, joined in January 2022 after serving as Acting Deputy Director of the agency’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
- In 2021, Stephanie Avakian returned to WilmerHale after serving as the Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement. That same year, John Wells – former Deputy Enforcement Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – and Michael Dawson – former Promontory Financial Group leader and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury – also joined the firm.